Power Clubs

http://books.google.com/books?id=X-0vAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA81

From the Strand, January 1900: As a novel entertainment, George W. Patterson of Chicago fitted a pair of Indian clubs with electric lights powered by a custom-built 35-pound battery. “To give a display the room is darkened, and Mr. Patterson, taking his stand in front of the audience, turns on the current and swings the clubs with the most wonderful results.” The time of these exposures is 5-10 seconds:

http://books.google.com/books?id=X-0vAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA81

“We notice two distinct ‘O’s,’ with a very thick outer circle or ring. This larger circle is produced by a thirty-two candle-power, fifty volt lamp which is usually run on 110 volts, fixed to the tip of each club. Some idea of the power of these two lights, which are necessary to make the figures, may be gauged from the fact that they are too dazzling for the naked eye when lighted and stationary, and are so powerful that they are capable of illuminating an entire church or public hall of average size.”

http://books.google.com/books?id=X-0vAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA81

“A pretty design produced by lighted clubs in a darkened hall is seen in our third photograph. The clubs are always swung to music, so that the effect to the audience is still more pleasing. The patterns or figures which may be obtained by the swinging of the clubs are almost infinite in variety. The lights on the clubs are under the control of an operator behind the scenes, who turns on and off the lights of both clubs by means of a switchboard.”

http://books.google.com/books?id=X-0vAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA81

“In order to produce such a charming picture as seen in our next photograph, the clubs, of course, have to be swung fairly rapidly. Indeed, it would be impossible to obtain so many circles with one pair of clubs unless they are swung quickly, while the grace and style of the whole effect speak volumes for Mr. Patterson’s ability as a club-swinger. His club swinging has rightly been termed ‘poetry in motion.'”

http://books.google.com/books?id=X-0vAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA81

“A complication” and a “running figure.” “Although this kind of electrical display with Indian clubs is entirely new so far as the public is concerned, Mr. Patterson has given much time and thought to the subject, and his entertainments have not reached their present high degree of excellence and novelty without a great deal of patient study of that vast and marvellous subject which we call electricity.”

Duck Doom

https://www.google.com/patents/US5572823

James Savaria’s “hand-held decoy and hunter shield,” patented in 1996, is pretty straightforward: You hold up an oversized silhouette of a game fowl and peer through a screen at your quarry. It can be held with a handgrip or planted in the ground.

It seems just as promising as the alternatives.

Aloft Over London

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lunardi%27s_New_Balloon_as_it_ascended_with_Himself_13th_May_1785.jpg

Vincenzo Lunardi undertakes the first aerial voyage in England, Sept. 14, 1784:

When the thermometer was at fifty, the effect of the atmosphere and the combination of circumstances around, produced a calm delight, which is inexpressible, and which no situation on earth could give. The stillness, extent, and magnificence of the scene, rendered it highly awful. My horizon seemed a perfect circle; the terminating line several hundred miles in circumference. This I conjectured from the view of London; the extreme points of which, formed an angle of only a few degrees. It was so reduced on the great scale before me, that I can find no simile to convey an idea of it. I could distinguish Saint Paul’s and other churches, from the houses. I saw the streets as lines, all animated with beings, whom I knew to be men and women, but which I should otherwise have had a difficulty in describing. It was an enormous beehive, but the industry of it was suspended. All the moving mass seemed to have no object but myself, and the transition from suspicion, and perhaps contempt of the preceding hour, to the affectionate transport, admiration and glory of the present moment, was not without its effect on my mind. I recollected the puns on my name, and was glad to find myself calm. I had soared from the apprehensions and anxieties of the Artillery Ground, and felt as if I had left behind me all the cares and passions that molest mankind.

See Eavesdropping.

One Last Thrill

In 2010 Lithuanian engineer Julijonas Urbonas designed the Euthanasia Coaster, a 7,500-meter roller coaster designed to kill its riders. After a 2-minute climb to the top of the drop tower, the 24 riders plunge 500 meters into a series of seven loops designed to subject them to 10 g for 60 seconds. This forces the blood away from their brains, causing first euphoria, then loss of consciousness and finally death by cerebral hypoxia.

Here’s what that looks like if you don’t black out:

When the train returns to the station, the corpses are unloaded and a new group of passengers can board. Urbonas says, “Thanks to the marriage of the advanced cross-disciplinary research in space medicine, mechanical engineering, material technologies, and, of course, gravity, the fatal journey is made pleasing, elegant, and meaningful.”

Heaven’s Domain

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Castel_Gandolfo_Papst.JPG

In April 2005, when the Vatican began to seek a successor to John Paul II, technology author Rogers Cadenhead registered the domain names ClementXV.com, InnocentXIV.com, LeoXIV.com, BenedictXVI.com, PaulVII.com, and PiusXIII.com, hoping that the new pope would take one of these names.

“Someone else already has JohnPaulIII.com and JohnXXIV.com,” he wrote on his blog, “but otherwise I put a chip down on every name of the past three centuries.”

When Joseph Ratzinger chose the name Benedict XVI, “I felt like my horse had come in first at the Kentucky races,” he told CNN. As owner of the new pope’s domain, he made a few requests, including:

  1. Three days, two nights at the Vatican hotel.
  2. “One of those hats.”
  3. Complete absolution, no questions asked, for the third week of March 1987.

“Whatever decision I make will be guided by the desire not to make 1.5 billion people mad at me … including my grandmother,” he told the Washington Post. As I write this, the domain appears to be unused — perhaps they’re still negotiating.

Space Saver

https://www.google.com/patents/US541216

This kitchen cabinet dates from 1895, but it’s as ruthlessly efficient as any modern appliance. The steel frame holds containers for flour, meal, spices, and condiments, and it’s fitted with an egg beater on the left, a coffee grinder on the right, sifting screens, and a scale. Inventor Michael Shanley even stood the whole thing in two cups of water to keep bugs from reaching the meal.

Under the counter is a tiny forlorn drawer marked Miscellaneous. What’s in there?

Misc

  • Fathers can mother, but mothers can’t father.
  • The Mall of America is owned by Canadians.
  • Neil Armstrong was 17 when Orville Wright died.
  • LONELY TYLENOL is a palindrome.
  • 258402 + 437762 = 2584043776
  • “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” — Plutarch

Edward Gorey’s pen names included Ogdred Weary, Raddory Gewe, Regera Dowdy, D. Awd­rey-Gore, E.G. Deadworry, Waredo Dyrge, Deary Rewdgo, Dewda Yorger, and Dogear Wryde. Writer Wim Tigges responded, “God reward ye!”

Happy Landings

https://www.google.com/patents/US4825469

Dan Kincheloe patented this “motorcycle safety apparel” in 1989. The rider wears an inflatable suit that’s connected by an umbilical cord to a container of compressed or liquefied gas. A much shorter pull cord connects the rider to the container’s valve. When the rider leaves the bike in a crash, the pull cord opens the valve and (hopefully) the gas inflates the suit before the umbilical cord separates.

“Thus it may seen that the jacket … expands upon separation of the rider from the motorcycle to essentially encase the rider within a protective cocoon to protect the rider from abrasion, to hold the body in a substantially rigid form, to minimize back and leg injury, to provide an air bag leg cushion around the body, to cushion impacts with hard objects and to grossly augment the protection provided by any other more conventional protective device worn by the rider such as gloves, helmet and boots.”

Industrial Devolution

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Philipp_Jakob_Loutherbourg_d._J._002.jpg

In 1830 engineer James Nasmyth visited England’s Black Country:

The earth seems to have been turned inside out. Its entrails are strewn about; nearly the entire surface of the ground is covered with cinder-heaps and mounds of scoriae. The coal, which has been drawn from below ground, is blazing on the surface. The district is crowded with iron furnaces, puddling furnaces, and coal-pit engine furnaces. By day and by night the country is glowing with fire, and the smoke of the ironworks hovers over it. There is a rumbling and clanking of iron forges and rolling mills. Workmen covered with smut, and with fierce white eyes, are seen moving about amongst the glowing iron and the dull thud of forgehammers.

Amidst these flaming, smoky, clanging works, I beheld the remains of what had once been happy farmhouses, now ruined and deserted. The ground underneath them had sunk by the working out of the coal, and they were falling to pieces. They had in former times been surrounded by clumps of trees; but only the skeletons of them remained, dilapidated, black, and lifeless. The grass had been parched and killed by the vapours of sulphureous acid thrown out by the chimneys; and every herbaceous object was of a ghastly gray — the emblem of vegetable death in its saddest aspect. Vulcan had driven out Ceres. In some places I heard a sort of chirruping sound, as of some forlorn bird haunting the ruins of the old farmsteads. But no! the chirrup was a vile delusion. It proceeded from the shrill creaking of the coal-winding chains, which were placed in small tunnels beneath the hedgeless road.

He added: “I sat down on an elevated part of the ruins, and looked down upon the extensive district, with its roaring and blazing furnaces, the smoke of which blackened the country as far as the eye could reach; and as I watched the decaying trees I thought of the price we had to pay for our vaunted supremacy in the manufacture of iron. We may fill our purses, but we pay a heavy price for it in the loss of picturesqueness and beauty.”

Things to Come

We can foresee the development of machinery that will make it possible to consult information in a library automatically. Suppose that you go into the library of the future and wish to look up ways for making biscuits. You will be able to dial into the catalogue machine ‘making biscuits.’ There will be a flutter of movie film in the machine. Soon it will stop, and, in front of you on the screen, will be projected the part of the catalogue which shows the names of three or four books containing recipes for biscuits. If you are satisfied, you will press a button; a copy of what you saw will be made for you and come out of the machine.

After further development, all the pages of all books will be available by machine. Then, when you press the right button, you will be able to get from the machine a copy of the exact recipe for biscuits that you choose.

— Edmund Callis Berkeley, Giant Brains, 1949

He adds, “We are not yet at the end of foreseeable development. There will be a third stage. You will then have in your home an auto­matic cooking machine operated by program tapes. You will stock it with various supplies, and it will put together and cook whatever dishes you desire. Then, what you will need from the library will be a program or routine on magnetic tape to control your automatic cook. And the library, instead of producing a pictorial copy of the recipe for you to read and apply, will produce a routine on magnetic tape for controlling your cooking machine so that you will actually get excellent biscuits!”